Tag Archives: Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 41 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 41

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Although it appeared as though Ulquiorra defeated Ichigo, that turns out not to be true. But is the creature that rises from the proverbial ashes really Ichigo? If so, what is he now, and how did he arrive there? Neither Orihime nor Ulquiorra can believe their eyes. While Ulquiorra questions him as to who he is, he receives no response. But whoever this is knows how to fire a cero! That is something no mere human can do.

And so the battle continues…

Meanwhile, Rukia’s battle with Rudbornn is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Yammy, who is really angry with Uryu. Chad marvels at Yammy’s size, having fought with him in the World of the Living. “He was huge back then… but he’s a whole lot bigger now!”

Orihime realizes that this is still Ichigo, there to protect her, as he returns to himself. Ulquiorra is in bad shape. While he can regenerate limbs, that is not true of his organs. He wants to finish this now, but Ichigo tries to attain an even playing field. Ulquiorra tells him, “Hmmph. To the very end, you never do what I want you to do.” He asks Orihime if she is afraid of him and she says, “I’m not.”

Yammy is resolved to avenge Ulquiorra. The others are initially not concerned, as he is Espada 10, and they’ve defeated worse. But then Yammy reveals that they are wrong about the Espada ranks, and he is actually 0… and bigger and badder than they ever imagined!

The other captains’ fights continue. Shunsui receives the grudging admiration of Starrk, while Hitsugaya battles Harribel, and Komamura stands guard while Lieutenant Kira heals the others. Soi Fon and Omaeda face off with the old man, Berrigan, who reveals the true nature of the Espada’s powers – each governs a different form of death. His is senescence, or aging. When he touches Soi Fon’s arm, which begins to rot, she makes an instant decision and demands Omaeda help her immediately! Harribel thinks she has triumphed over Hitsuygaya, because she can also control water. But Hitsugaya lets her know she has far underestimated him.

Decisive battles are being waged here, more enemies defeated. You just know that at some point, Aizen has to be let back into the fray, or what’s the point of him being there? I enjoy the strange relationship between Soi Fon and Omaeda, and I don’t think she really hates or despises him the way she seems to. And he isn’t as weak as he thinks he is. Shunsui is handsome, as always, always glad to see more of him. I loved the battle with Hitsugaya and Harribel. People too often overlook him because he resembles a child, but he is far from that and he is far stronger than people give him credit for.

The most touching part of this volume was the scene between Ulquiorra and Orihime, which made me tear up, and earned Ulquiorra my reluctant admiration. Still loving this series and looking forward to the next book!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 40 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 40     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

As Ichigo and Ulquiorra battle, they assess one another to see in what way their opponent has become more skillful since their last encounter. Orihime stands on the sidelines, helpless to do anything but offer her support to Ichigo, ready to heal him if necessary. Behind her back, though, others are plotting against her. Namely the two girls who were previously the object of Lord Aizen’s wrath for what they tried to do to her. They know Orihime is  no longer under his protection, so she is fair game. And they intend to get even for their imagined slights.

At that moment, Yammy arrives, eager to be part of the fight against Ichigo, although Ulquiorra has certainly not called for him and doesn’t want his help. Too bad for the girls that one chooses to be mouthy, since he obviously doesn’t like them to begin with. But luck is with them, thanks to the arrival of Uryu, but for how long? It’s getting to be a regular three ring circus there! And Uryu knows how to handle the big dummy… with a little help from Mayuri Kurotsuchi.

Turning back to Ulquiorra, Ichigo apologizes for the interruptions, saying “This is what you’ve been waiting to see” just as he goes Hollow. Ulquiorra reveals that Espada above quatra are forbidden to release beneath Las Noches’ canopy. But never fear, he knows how to remedy that. And so the fight continues. As usual, Ichigo never backs down, never considers the possibility of defeat, even though Ulquiorra insists, “I’m telling you – it’s futile!” Ichigo replies,” You thought I’d give up just because you’re stronger than me?” Uryu carries Orihime up to where the fight is taking place. Why is Ulquiorra dismayed to see her there? Is it possible he has a heart and in this heart he cares for Orihime?

This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and Ulquiorra, as if to make up for the lack of Ichigo in previous volumes. Not that I’m complaining about that, mind you, but in the end, Ichigo is the star of the show. Still, doesn’t hurt to let the others shine too. They’re all part of the story. But as the hero, we also know in our heart of hearts that Ichigo can’t fail, not even against Ulquiorra. So how bad will the defeat be for the powerful Espada? Only time will tell. But it’s obvious one of them must fall, and logically it can’t be Ichigo.

A riveting volume of Bleach, look forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 39 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 39     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Omaeda thinks he’s rather handily won his battle against the fraccione but suddenly he’s in over his head. Yet when he sees Sai Fon in trouble, it’s Omaeda to the rescue! How can that guy she’s fighting be her equal? But in reality Sai Fon has everything well in hand.

Matsumoto is facing three opponents. They start to argue amongst themselves as to who should sit out the battle, in order to even the odds, but Matsumoto shows them she is more than up to the challenge they present! However, she is surprised by the arrival of Hinamori. And even from his own battle, Hitsugaya is perturbed  by her presence as well, momentarily distracted by his concern for her.

Shunsui decides it’s time to get serious with his Espada opponent, who wants to know why Shunsui has not even drawn his second sword. Naturally he explains why that isn’t necessary. Looks like he’ll have to use both, though, after all. Meanwhile, Ukitake refuses to fight a child, to the child’s dismay.

Matsumoto and Hinamori’s three opponents have combined in a horrible manner to become one horrible opponent, taking out both Matsumoto and Hinamori. Luckily, Hisagi is there to continue the fight and keep them safe. While he does that, Kira sees to his companions’ wounds. Iba enters the fray as well, but the beast is strong, so Captain General Yamamoto himself takes to the field!

And back in Hueco Mundo, the fight continues…

If you don’t like battles, then this part of the Bleach arc is sure to disappoint, but in all honesty, each battle is well done and interesting, as well as necessary. Personally, I could never find them boring. I think they bring out aspects of each combatant’s personality, and we get to see more of them than we generally do. I mean, they’re Soul Reapers, surely you want to understand what makes them so special to Soul Society.

Yes, I admit there isn’t a lot of Ichigo lately, but hey, he’s not the only Soul Reaper out there, just because he’s the main character. Don’t worry, he’ll be back. In the meantime, enjoy watching the others in action. And seeing the old man do battle is priceless. I’ve always enjoyed the relationship between him and Shunsui and Ukitake, the light banter and the give-and-take. Did you know they were the first graduates of the Soul Academy and the first captains?

Very interesting volume of Bleach, but there’s more to come. And at some point, you know Aizen et al will come out of their fiery time-out and get back into the game. Can’t wait!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 38 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 38         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 7, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The battle of the lieutenants versus the Fracciones continues. Kira is unimpressed by his opponent’s steel wings. It’s time to show this guy what Kira’s Wabisuke can do. Hisagi’s opponent is Findorr, who keeps dumbing down his skills in order to match Hisagi’s level, which he finds infuriating… and not necessary. Also, Hisagi is beyond tired of the way Findorr keeps saying Exacta. Time to end this thing.

To the Soul Reapers’ dismay, one of the four pillars collapses. Have they lost a comrade? Yumichika wishes to rush to his friend’s side, but Hisage stops him.  Ikkaku is not down for the count, as his opponent, Poww, learns. But Poww isn’t done either, and he is a very big boy, even bigger than Captain Komamura. But the captain has a trick or two up his own sleeve.

Iba berates Ikkaku for his loss and accuses him of holding back and deliberately losing. Of course, Ikkaku doesn’t take the accusation well. Meanwhile, as King Berrigan prepares to send in the next group, to replace those who have been defeated, he is confronted by more of the Soul Reapers, and the battle begins anew! Old man Yamamoto exhorts them to “Defend this ground with all your might! Even if your flesh is torn from your bones, the enemy must not enter!” To which, Shunsui’s response to Ukitake is “Oh dear, it makes me tense to be around old man Yama when he’s like this….”

This volume of Bleach continues the battles from the previous book and then some. Definitely action-packed! One thing I like about Bleach is that it’s not an automatic win for the good guys, ever, and sometimes they do lose. And sometimes they do stupid things. That only goes to show how well Tite Kubo draws his characters, fleshes them out until they become real people.  I love that he infuses his writing with a great deal of humor, such as Shunsui’s comment above, and the banter between Matsumoto and the three female Fracciones she faces, as well as the relationship between Sai Fon and Omaeda. I guess my only real complaint is his tendency to draw most of his women with exaggerated busts, which I find unnecessary. But in all fairness, I am probably not the target demographic he is aiming for.

Another great volume of Bleach, even with no sign of Ichigo. But you’ll remember we left him rescuing Orihime so it’s just a matter of time until we return to that. Looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 37 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 37           

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The unimaginable has happened to the Soul Reapers of Soul Society! They have a traitor in their midst. Traitors, even. None other than Aizen, Tosen, and Ichimaru. Shinji is not surprised, having been suspicious of Aizen from the start, which is why he made him his assistant captain. To keep an eye on him. But Aizen realized that and set Shinji up in a way he could not have foreseen.

 

Before Aizen and his cohorts can finish off Shinji and the others, Kisuke Uruhara and Tessai arrive. Kisuke is confused at what he sees, recognizing hollowfication when he sees it. Tessai tries to attack Aizen and his pals, but they manage to slip away and Kisuke tells him they need to focus on Shinji and his people for now. Good thing he has something prepared for this –  none other than the Hogyoku!

 

When Kisuke and Tessai are unexpectedly arrested, things are not looking good. The Council has determined to destroy Shinji and the others, as being Hollows, and send Kiskue into permanent exile in the World of the Living, but the arrival of a deus ex machine changes things, hopefully for the better.

 

Back in the present, the Soul Reapers realize that Aizen et al know about the fake Karakura Town, and have made their own plans. The Old Man Captain has anticipated them and has set four trusted Soul Reapers at the four corners of the infrastructure of the fake town – Ikkaku, Yumichika, Kira, and Hisagi. To keep Aizen at bay, the old man surrounds the traitors with a huge wall of fire. It’ll take them time to get out of this in order to aid their subordinates.

 

Let the battles begin!

 

Watching the past, and seeing what happened to Shinji and the others, is just heartbreaking. Makes you want to see Aizen suffer greatly for what he did, the heartless, gutless coward. Good thing they have Kisuke on their side, and he is nothing if not brilliant. Still, makes you wonder about what might have been.

 

I love the battles between the lieutenants and the Fraccions, each memorable in its own way. I laughed at Ikkaku’s comment that he thought he heard Yumichika laugh, but surely not in the middle of a battle.

 

The scenes with Alquiorra and Orihime are great. He informs her that Aizen no longer needs her and that she will die there, but she insists that her friends will save her. He scoffs, but she tells him, “My heart is already with them.” And of course Ichigo proves her correct by his arrival.

 

The battles have already begun, but these are powerful enemies. Can these four handle them, or will the captains need to step in? Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 36 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 36     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 6, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Even as the Soul Society rushes to the rescue of Karakura Town, the pendulum swings back, back, back… 110 years back to be precise. Back to what came before.

Shinji Hirako is captain of the Fifth Company, and his assistant captain is Sosuke Aizen. They, along with the other captains, are assembling to welcome the newly promoted captain among them. On the way, Shinji is suddenly attacked by Hiyori Sarugaki, assistant captain of the Twelfth Company, but she is quickly put in her place by Love Aikawa, the captain of the Seventh Company. Among the other captains arriving for the occasion is Shunsui Kyoraku, captain of the Eighth Company, and Jushiro Ukitake, captain of the Thirteenth Company. The captains line up and wait. After a time, a fellow enters through the large doors. He seems a little nervous and unsure of himself, even as he introduces himself as Kisuke Uruhara. He is the new captain of the Twelfth Company. He doesn’t make a very good first impression on the others, and is snapped at by his friend, Yoruichi Shihoin, captain of the Second Company, to enter with confidence.

The next day, Hiyori is outraged to find Kisuke changing his room, and she punches him. Despite her actions, he asks for a favor from her… to please accompany him to the Maggot’s Nest. As he explains to her on the way, the Thirteen Court Guards don’t have a plan in place for members who wish to resign. Also, there are eyes kept on all of them, searching for signs of trouble within the ranks.  Those who display such signs, and those who wish to resign, end up in a special place (translate under confinement) from which they cannot leave. Why does Kisuke wish to go to the Maggot’s Nest to begin with, now that he is with another company? There is a particular prisoner he wishes to speak with, a man by the name of Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Kiskue wants his help.

Something strange is going on in the Rukongai. People are literally disappearing, leaving nothing but their clothes behind.  Members of the squads are sent to investigate. Kiskue asks Hiyori to visit the scene of the disappearances to obtain samples he badly needs for what he is doing. Since becoming captain, he has established the Twelfth Company as Research and Development, with Kurotsuchi as his chief assistant. Hiyori dislikes Kurotsuchi and his disdain for rules, and she doesn’t want to go on Kisuke’s errand, but she grudgingly does.

At a meeting of the captains to discuss the situation, both the Captain and Assistant Captain of the Kido Corp are chosen by the Old Man to investigate. But Shunsui suggests that perhaps this is a dangerous idea. Instead of sending Tessai, he proposes his own Assistant Captain, Lisa, who just happens to be within earshot  (she’s been eavesdropping on the meeting), and she agrees to help so off she goes.

Things go from bad to worse, as the three who are well known in the future as villains, begin to work their evil deeds.

This has to be one of my favorite Bleach volumes ever, this visit to the past where we see our heroes as they once were.  I especially loved the story of Kisuke and Mayuri (who barely looks like himself!). We see the young and volatile Byakuya, as well as those who later become the Visoreds. I have to admit my heart broke, seeing them as they once were, before the perfidy of Aizen and his cohorts cost them so much. At one time I really disliked Shinji (whom I often refer to as the Little Dutch Boy), but I have come to really like him. We watch as Aizen recruits a very young Gin. And also, we see Shunsui meet Nanao, which is so cute in and of itself.

The worst part is watching the drama unfold and knowing how this story will end in much tragedy and sorrow. Yet also hope.

I’m sure there’s more to come, can’t wait to read it! Another great volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 35 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 35

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 7, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kurotsuchi has shut down Szayelaporro for a long time to come, stretching time to an infinitesimal slowness as he waits in agony for the sword to pierce his chest. So, that being done, on to other things. Meanwhile, Nnoitora and Kenpachi are still going at it. The Espada is confident that nothing Kenpachi can do will harm him. Can the Soul Reaper have met his match?

At one time, Nnoitora and Nelliel worked together for Aizen, but there is no love lost between them. Memories of their antagonism flow through his brain as the battle with Kenpachi reaches an end…

But wait… the regularly scheduled program is being interrupted by an announcement from former Captain Aizen. First, he is done with Orihime and has no further use for her. Secondly… he is about to destroy Karakura Town. He gives the location where he has put Orihime, but a choice must be made. Save the girl or save the town. Can’t be both.

Tick tock, tick tock, the clock is ticking the time away. What to do, what to do, what to do?

What would Ichigo do?

A great deal of this volume of Bleach is concerned with the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, and it’s not always clear who will prevail. The part with Kurotsuchi tickles me, as Uryu and Renji watch in horror at the way he is able to revive Nemu. I must say that Kurotsuchi is very… different. And not in an entirely bad way. Still, I wouldn’t want to hang out with him.

And now we’re getting ready for the next arc, in which the Soul Society, along with Ichigo, work to save Karakura Town, as well as Orihime, and some other heroes are about to take to the stage. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to more.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 33 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 33                   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 7, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Ichigo has defeated Grimmjow, but another Espada is waiting to take him on, Nnitoira.  Contemptuous of Grimmjow, and baffled as to why Ichigo would defend his fallen foe, Nnitoira orders his second-in-command Tesla to keep Orihime close to him. (Will these people never learn? Nothing makes Ichigo fight hard than when one of his friends is in trouble, particularly Orihime).

Meanwhile, Uryu and Renji, having thought they’d escaped the cluthes of Szayelaporro, find themselves back where they started, to their frustration. Besides his disturbing habit of eating his minions in order to regain health, apparently he has the ability to manipulate the inside of his palace to his satisfaction, thus sending the boys on a loop right back to him. “Shall we begin the Second Act?” he queries.

And oh, he has other tricks up his sleeves. Even nastier ones.

Orihime is powerless to do anything to help Ichigo. Although Aizen has made it clear she is not to be harmed, all bets are off if she has her Rikka attack.  Tesla wonders where the small Arrancar has gone. When she is found cowering on the ground, Nnitoira recognizes her, to his surprise. Ichigo wonders how an Espada knows a simple Arrancar, and a child at that.  Nel recognizes Nnitoira… and still doesn’t like him. But what is Nel’s secret?  And for how much longer can she hide it?

Renji, Uryu, Pesche, and Dondochakka have their own problems. With multiple versions of each of them running around, it’s difficult to know who is real and who is an imposter. But again, things can get worse… and they do.

This volume of Bleach is divided between two battles—that of Ichigo and Nnitoira and that of Uryu and Renji vs Szayelaporro. Not sure where Rukia is at this point, but Orihime is being held hostage, a witness to Ichigo’s battle. The surprise here is not Ichigo, but Nel, as we learn her back story, and as she transforms into what she once was. Who saw this coming? Certainly not Ichigo, who never expected to encounter a fully grown former Espada once named Nelliel. Her story is very touching, as is the story of her friends, Pesche and Dondochakka, who prove themselves to be much more than comic relief. They are true subordinates and faithful friends. As for Uryu and Renji, they are being tortured by the devious Szayaleporro. Getting out of this sticky wicket will be a problem. If I had to guess, it will be Uryu’s quick thinking and calm demeanor that will get them through this but we won’t know until the next volume. Likewise, how will the encounter with Nel and Nnitoira end? Gotta wait and see.

Another good volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 32 by Tite Kubo

 

Bleach, Vol 32       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 7, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nel and Orihime are stricken at the idea of Ichigo having to face down Grimmjow yet again, but he assures them everything will be all right. Heartened by his words, Orihime reassures the still upset Nel that Ichigo is a man of his word, and if he says he will do something, he will. Grimmjow continues to taunt Ichigo until he releases his inner Hollow, which frightens Orihime. Is this the same Ichigo she has always known? Now it is Nel’s turn to tell Orihime to have faith and to cheer on Ichigo, for if they don’t, who will?

Gillians are the lowest class of Menos. They consume souls to the point where they lose all individuality. But occasionally, one of the consumed Hollows takes control of the others and dominates, continuing to consume until it becomes an Adjucha. If this Adjucha doesn’t continue to eat Hollows, it will regress into a Gillian and then there is no coming back from that. This is the perpetual fear that keeps them going. Grimmjow was once such an Adjucha, who continued to climb in the ranks until he became an Espada. He never wishes to go back again, so he must defeat Ichigo.

Although, if he fails, there is always another Espada waiting in the wings…

This volume of Bleach is concerned with the ongoing epic battle between Ichigo and Grimmjow, both of whom are determined to win. This fight was inevitable, considering their history together.  Orihime and Nel are helpless to do other than cheer Ichigo on, but never underestimate the value of a good rooting section! Reading about how Grimmjow became what he is was interesting, and gives us more insight into the hierarchy of the Hollows, as well as their development.

There is also a bonus story concerning Hitsugaya which I enjoyed.

Looking forward to the next volume!

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 31 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 31     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 1, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo comes face to face with Ulquiorra, who informs him that Rukia is dead. And so is the Espada she was fighting. Ichigo doesn’t believe him, insisting he will save her. When Ulquiorra asks why Ichigo doesn’t attack him, he says it’s because Ulquiorra hasn’t hurt any of his friends. That quickly changes when Ulquiorra replies,” What if I told you that I brought Orihime Inoue to Hueco Mundo?” And the battle is on…

Meanwhile, Orihime is alone in her room, her solitude disturbed by two young Arrancar girls, one of whom is determined to torture her. But their fun is quickly disrupted by Grimmjow, who sets the torturer straight, despite her threats to tell Aizen what he did to her. But Grimmjow has his reasons for his actions, which he reveals to Orihime.

Renji is still battling Szayelaporro, who has a rather disturbing way of replenishing his health. Renji is at the end of his strength when help arrives from an unexpected source. Grimmjow has taken Orihime with him, for his own purposes, despite the intervention of Ulquiorra. Grimmjow is determined to use Orihime’s healing ability to fully heal the opponent he intends to fight. Orihime doesn’t wish to obey, until she is presented with a good reason to do so.

Another battle-centric volume of Bleach. I imagine that’s what we’ll be getting for a while as Ichigo and his friends make their way to Aizen’s inner sanctum. I’m sure he’s anticipated all this in advance and is waiting for them with plans of his own.

I love the banter between Renji and Dondochakka, and Uryu and Pesche. Not to mention Nel and Ichigo. At the same time, they are more than mere comic relief. If we know nothing else about Ichigo, it is that he will not give up, no matter what the odds, in order to save the people he cares about. Never say never is his motto.

More battles ahead, looking forward to the next volume!